Emma Raducanu handed tricky US Open draw ahead of title defence

Emma Raducanu handed tricky US Open draw – USA TODAY

Emma Raducanu has been handed a very difficult draw for her US Open title defence, as she will face France’s Alize Cornet in the first round.

Raducanu has a huge challenge ahead in world No 37 Cornet, who is one of the highest ranked unseeded players she could have come up against in the first round.

An Australian Open quarter-finalist earlier this year, Cornet ended world No 1 Iga Swaitek’s match-winning streak at Wimbledon and is one of the most experienced players on tour. New York will be her 63rd consecutive major appearance, a record in women’s tennis.

But even if US Open champion Raducanu progresses past her, it is unlikely to get easier as she could well face four-time major champion Naomi Osaka as early as the third round and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the fourth.

Raducanu, 19, famously became the first player to come through qualifying to win a major title last year in New York, but she enters this tournament in wholly different circumstances. Now ranked 11th – 139 places higher than she started the US Open in 2021 – Raducanu is seeded 11th and must have been hoping to ease herself into the most high-pressure event of the year for her. British No 2 Harriet Dart will play 10th seed Daria Kasatkina.

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Meanwhile 23-time major champion Serena Williams will play Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in the opener for her final US Open, ahead of her likely retirement after the tournament. Her second round opponent could be world No 2 Anett Kontaveit.

The draw did not treat Andy Murray kindly either, as he drew 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo who has enjoyed a strong season, including reaching the semi-final in Miami earlier this year.

Cam Norrie, seeded seventh in New York, will play French journeyman Benoit Paire in his opening round. British No 1 Norrie has been drawn in the same quarter as Rafael Nadal, who plays wildcard Rinky Hijikata of Australia.

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Reigning champion Daniil Medvedev, who missed Wimbledon due to the ban on Russian athletes, returns to Grand Slam tennis against American Stefan Kozlov, who is ranked 110th. Though the men’s draw became a lot less crowded following news of Djokovic’s withdrawal earlier on Thursday, Medvedev did fall into the same quarter as Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios.

The maverick Australian, who is seeded at a major for the first time in more than two years, received the most eye-catching first-round draw of them all as he will play doubles partner and compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Dan Evans, the 20th seed, will play world No 68 Jiri Vesely while British compatriot and US Open debutant Jack Draper is to face Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.

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